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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Manifestation of Christ, #18
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (I Thessalonians 4:16)
There is no New Testament writing, to our knowledge, that suggests there will be an invisible coming of Christ to raise his saints from the dead and carry them off to a Heaven far away from the earth. The personal coming to the individual of John, Chapter 14, as noted earlier, will be invisible as far as the world is concerned. But this personal coming does not include bodily ascension and resurrection. It is not a "rapture" as currently conceived.
However, the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians with its shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God, certainly does not suggest an invisible, secret coming. That coming will be an open manifestation of the power and glory of God.
The Greek term parousia (translated "coming") employed in I Thessalonians 4:15 is used also in Matthew 24:27 (translated "coming"). The common use of parousia suggests that I Thessalonians 4:15 and Matthew 24:27 are referring to the same event. This event will take place "immediately after the tribulation of those days" (Matthew 24:29).
To maintain that I Thessalonians, Chapter Four and Matthew, Chapter 24 are speaking of two different comings separated by seven years (as in the Dispensational model), when the same Greek term is used, when the same elements, such as the clouds and the trumpet, are present, and when the Old Testament portrays the raising and glorifying of the elect as a public event (Gideon's army, as well as Isaiah, Chapter 60), suggests an interpretation designed to support a preconceived idea. Taken at face value, the two Scriptures clearly describe the same event.
It is certain that the Scriptures set forth the manifestation of Christ and His saints in the Day of the Lord as an earthshaking event witnessed by all, and not an invisible evacuation into the spirit realm of a group of Gentile believers who are so weak they cannot stand in the Presence of Antichrist.
The secret, invisible coming of the Lord is described in John 14:3, and 14:18-23. But this coming does not include a bodily resurrection or ascension. It is not the manifestation of Christ or of the sons of God. It is not the Day of the Lord, the time of the raising of the dead. Rather, it is the coming of the Lord to purify His saints in preparation for His (and their) manifestation. Perhaps it is this invisible (to the world) coming of the Lord into His people in judgment that Bible teachers have confused with a "rapture" of the bodies of the saints from the earth.
It is not the Lord's will that our bodies be removed from the earth but that we be guarded from the deceptions of the enemy:
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:15)
To be continued.